All employees in the United States are guaranteed civil liberties under the law, with specific individual rights protected by law from unjust interference. Some of these individual rights include the right to live a life free of sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation and unsafe working conditions.
In our fast-moving economy, there are more temporary workers than ever before. Employers now use contract workers to fill a variety of needs, from long-term to last-minute. Whether you have a job in food service, retail, construction or any other line of work, you're working just as hard as anyone with a permanent job to earn your wages. The economy could not function without you.
As we have noted in prior posts, allegations of discrimination can be tough to deal with. They can have a profound effect on an office's culture and produce a chilling effect on creativity. Discrimination claims can also lead to costly lawsuits and judgments, which can ultimately cripple a business.
Ideally, the relationship between a supervisor and a subordinate will be harmonious and productive. Both parties will respect and like working together, and their respective work product will show it. However, this ideal relationship may not be what is currently being experienced between an employee and their supervisor (or the employee and the company for that matter).
If you have ever walked past an Abercrombie & Fitch store, you are likely familiar with the “vibe” that the store attempts to project. Its visual displays and scents can be perceived from surprisingly far away. But perhaps its most significant vibe-related focus is its employees. This store has come under fire in recent years for its policies related to its employee “look” policy. It has specifically come under fire for hiring restrictions based on the perceived physical attractiveness of applicants and the body types of those applicants.
We frequently write about the kinds of mistreatment that many Americans face on a regular basis in the workplace. Although the law prohibits discrimination, harassment and other forms of mistreatment under numerous circumstances, this kind of mistreatment persists. When workers who have suffered in the workplace are brave enough to speak up about their situations, they are not always rewarded for their efforts. Sometimes they experience indifference, additional mistreatment or they lose their cases in court due to some kind of technicality.
Workplaces across California are good at making it known when they do well in the areas of reducing discrimination and promoting equality. Large employers especially often sing their own praises when the number of women or people of color in high-level positions reaches a new high. While it is important to recognize the accomplishments that help make a workplace more equal, it is important that we not let those achievements overshadow the plights of people who continue to face discrimination as employees.
In California, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing oversees employment discrimination complaints. When a worker has been the victim of discrimination in the workplace, he she may file a complaint with the DFEH, which will then investigate the complaint and determine whether discrimination did occur. But how does the investigation work? And what type of evidence does the DFEH consider when reviewing a complaint?
Numerous studies and surveys confirm that the majority of Americans support the idea that individuals should not be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation or their sexual identity. However, the law does not protect against discrimination based on these two characteristics in the same ways that it does for others.
If you have ever been involved in a car accident, have been the victim of medical malpractice or have otherwise had to hold another individual or entity accountable for negligence, you are likely familiar with how personal injury lawsuits work. You, as the individual who has suffered harm, sue the individual or entity whose negligence caused or contributed to that harm. Then you either negotiate a settlement or take the case to trial. It would seem that a worker suing an employer for discrimination would work in roughly the same way. But for better and for worse, it does not.